The Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) will be meeting to vote on new rules added to MMA judging criteria next month. The ABC general body will vote on new language in the criteria for scoring an MMA match passed by the ABC MMA rules and regulations committee previously at their convention on August 1.
MMA Fighting reports that the new language particularly pertains to changing the meaning of a 10-8 round. ABC outlined three criteria, damage, dominance and duration, to be new factors in determining if a round should be scored 10-8. If two of these three factors are met then a 10-8 round is possible, but if all three are met then a 10-8 must be given. A 10-7 round is acceptable if a fighter shows "overwhelming dominance" and "significant damage" throughout the round and the referee should have stopped the fight.
This sounds like a clear way to break down a round into three defining characteristics to look out for. It makes sense that if a fighter causes severe damage to an opponent for a long period of time in a round and is completely dominant, they can and should earn a 10-8. The problem is in some of the wording of the definitions listed below:
Damage - A judge shall assess if a fighter damages their opponent significantly in the round, even though they may not have dominated the action. Damage includes visible evidence such as swellings and lacerations. Damage shall also be assessed when a fighter's actions, using striking and/or grappling, lead to a diminishing of their opponents' energy, confidence, abilities and spirit. All of these come as a direct result of damage. When a fighter is damaged with strikes, by lack of control and/or ability, this can create defining moments in the round and shall be assessed with great value.
Dominance - As MMA is an offensive based sport, dominance of a round can be seen in striking when the losing fighter is forced to continually defend, with no counters or reaction taken when openings present themselves. Dominance in the grappling phase can be seen by fighters taking dominant positions in the fight and utilizing those positions to attempt fight ending submissions or attacks. Merely holding a dominant position(s) shall not be a primary factor in assessing dominance. What the fighter does with those positions is what must be assessed.
Duration - Duration is defined by the time spent by one fighter effectively attacking and controlling their opponent, while the opponent offers little to no offensive output. A judge shall assess duration by recognizing the relative time in a round when one fighter takes and maintains full control of the effective offense. This can be assessed both standing and grounded.
Dominance and duration are pretty clear cut. If you force your opponent to constantly be on the defensive, you are dominating them. If you are controlling the fight for most of the round, you check off the duration factor. The main concern I have is with the damage category.
MMA is a dangerous and violent sport. With the four ounce gloves fighters wear, they can do some seriously devastating work in the Octagon or cage. Any one punch can cut an opponent.
So, if a fighter cuts his opponent with one strike, and then takes it to the ground and sits on them for three minutes, does that deserve to be a 10-8 round? I would say no.
Now of course, the damage done to an opponent needs to be taken into effect. If you are bloodying up the other fighter for five minutes and everyone except the ref thinks that the fight should end, then yes mark them down on the scorecard. But a couple of bruises or cuts does not necessarily equate to the fighter being better.
Though the new language does state that at least two of the three factors need to be met, the language in damage is too lenient for me. If a fighter gets cut in a round, they should not feel as though they already have one strike against them. Blood and bruises are a part of this sport, and the sight of them does not automatically mean a fighter is losing. 10-8 rounds should be a rare thing in MMA, and I believe that we will only see more if the ABC general body passes this rule change.